Fiona Davies is a visual artist working primarily with installation, video and sound.
Her practice has moved from being part of a collaborative project Blood on Silk. This collaboration was with the late Dr Peter Domachuk, a physicist and Dr Lee-Anne Hall , a writer. Until his death Peter was working on a research project in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney seeking to develop a silk implantable chip allowing real time measurement of the properties of blood while that blood was still circulating within the body.
This collaboration of ideas explored the scientific, cultural, economic, technological and aesthetic intersections and exchanges between the two materials blood and silk. These included the materiality of both blood and silk, the cultural history of silk / ‘silk routes’ pathways of commercial, cultural and technological exchange and the intersections with the newer trading routes for bioproducts including blood, the concepts of liveness of internal feedback , reading the body in real time; The testing process is internalised rather than an external process and issues to do with human rights through other uses of implantable chips; issues of surveillance or monitoring.
After Peter’s death Fiona’s practice has refocused on the core issues of the medicalised death of her father. These core issues are a key definition, material, hospital process and artistic process.
Firstly, the key definition is that of death. In the context of the ICU there tends to be a dislocation from the understanding that death is inevitable or that it may be inevitable, but is not today.
Secondly the key material is that of blood. It is a fundamentally essential circulatory material. Davies’ father’s death was the result of surgery to repair two aneurisms that did not go quite to plan resulting in a failure of his circulatory system. Determination of the presence or absence of chemical markers and in what quantities, the percentage of red blood cell oxygenation, the blood pressures are all elements of this material within this context. She also speculates about the economic uses of the material of blood, the synthesis of artificial blood and the process of testing.
Thirdly one of the key processes used in an ICU is surveillance. Surveillance within an intensive care ward is both observation of the body and collection of data and it’s visualisation. A central failing of this surveillance system is the idea that all of this information is referred to an established norm. That norm is established based on experience or by previous large scale testing and determination of what is considered an acceptable range.
Lastly the artistic process of endurance performance is how she frames her response to the four and a half months her father was in intensive care. This is not performance as spectacle. During the exhibition of her artworks she also encourages and seeks out possibilities of engaging viewers in conversation about medicalised death. This is also framed as an undocumented performance